Due to its rounded form and easy climbing, Koip Peak is a relatively undistinguished mountain near the Sierra Crest, south of Mount Dana and Tioga Pass. Although termed by some a "talus slog" up clinking metamorphic rock, this region's considerable remoteness make this climb a wilderness experience. From the summit and from along the approach, you'll take in stellar views of Mono Lake and Mts. Ritter and Banner, as well as the northern peaks of Kings Canyon National Park.
The well-maintained trail from Dana Meadows which goes over Koip Peak Pass (12,260') provides the easiest climbing access to Koip Peak. Koip's western slopes are also climbable (also a walk-up), if you first ascend the West Ridge of Kuna Peak. An ascent of the large, north-facing glacier between Koip and Kuna peaks looks particularly inviting, although internet information is spotty.
If you have the inclination (aka peakbagging fever), consider the short detour west to climb Kuna Peak. Though not as distinct a peak, it has three positive attributes: it's higher than Koip, it's over 13,000ft, and is the third highest summit in Yosemite NP after Lyell and Dana. The traverse is class 2+ with some elevation loss down to the saddle, but a worthwhile side trip.
First find your way to Tuolumne Meadows. The Dana Meadows trailhead is 4 miles east along highway 120, 2 miles west of Tioga Pass, on the south side of road.
Usual Yosemite red tape.
Although Koip Peak is technically not inside Yosemite National Park, you must nontheless obtain a wilderness permit (directions to Tuolumne Meadows permit office) if your trip originates inside the park.
Important note: No overnight camping is allowed in Yosemite NP in the watershed of the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River. You must cross into Inyo NF to camp. These boundaries are best visualized on the USGS "Koip Peak" 7.5-minute topographical map. A favorite trick is to camp just east of Parker Pass, over the park boundary.
Parking at the Dana Meadows trailhead can be tight, so I recommend an early arrival.
When To Climb/Ski
The relatively gentle terrain makes Koip Peak accessible during all seasons, although Tioga Road closures make parking at Dana Meadows impossible for 6+months per year. However, because snow is thinner and melts more rapidly on the eastern side of the Sierra, Tioga Road is often clear up to Tioga Pass, making it possible to ski to the Dana Meadows trailhead. I've added an epic ski trek by Bob Akka to the links page, which starts at Dana Meadows, crosses Kuna Crest, then descends to the Alger Lakes and exits at Silver Lake.
See "Red Tape" section above for the special camping regulations in this area.
Go here for more general camping information in the area.
to do list
- Silver Lake approach
- Parker Canyon approach???
- Inyo NF red tape and regs (or is it Toiyabe?)
"Named by Willard D. Johnson, USGS, about 1883. (Farquhar: J. N. LeConte.) 'Koip Peak, between Mono and Tuolumne counties, is probably, like near-by Kuna Peak, named from a Mono Indian word. Koipa is "mountain sheep" in the closely related Northern Paiute dialect.' (Kroeber, 45.)"
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
"It is probably from the Northern Paiute Koipa or from Mono Koippi 'mountain sheep', lit. 'that which is killed', from koi- 'kill plural'."
- Erwin Gudde, California Place Names
- Morgan's Koip Peak Trip Report
- Kim's Koip Peak trip report
- Bob Ikka's Kuna Crest crossing
An epic ski tour!
- Koip/Kuna dayhike - Oct 9, 1998
- Parker/Wood/Koip/Kuna dayhike - Aug 13, 2004